Summertime is cherry time! This fruit is sweet and a little sour, it goes well with desserts, or it can act as a dessert and snack on its own. Most importantly, you should not ignore the health benefits of cherries when you pick them for your menu.
Did you know that cherries are from the same fruit family as peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds? I did not! I found out just as I was researching this article and dreaming of cherry-based desserts. Like a nice perfect slice of cherry pie.
But if you know how to pick them, cherries bring so much to your table. And when you’re a kid, that thing they bring to the table is joy. Have you ever worn ‘earrings’ made with twin cherries? I sometimes do that in the present, too, and it reminds me of our childhood yard and our sour cherry tree that used to give us the best shade in the summer. Cherries are often tied up in memories, but when you’re young, your parents know what you don’t yet care about: that the health benefits of cherries are quite impressive.
But remember there are two types of cherries: sweet and tart/ sour cherries. The sweet variety is better eaten fresh and raw, while sour cherries are actually tastier in cooking (though I don’t mind them raw at all).
5 health benefits of cherries
1. Loaded with antioxidants
I could tell you the names of these antioxidants. In fact, I will: tart cherries are full of anthocyanins and cyanidin, compounds that have a huge impact when it comes to protecting your body from free radicals and increasing your immunity. They are also responsible for the dark red color of the fruit.
On their part, sweet cherries contain quercetin, which is one of the most potent antioxidants. It helps you exercise and is believed to have life-prolonging abilities.
2. Fighting cancer
The American Institute for Cancer Research lists cherries as a cancer-fighting food. Cherries help prevent colorectal cancer thanks to the dietary fiber they contain. One particular compound in sweet cherries, cyanidin may promote cellular differentiation, which means that they reduce the risk for healthy cells to transform into cancerous ones. Other nutrients found in cherries, like vitamin C and carotenoids play a role in cancer prevention.
3. Alleviate muscle pain
In a study, athletes who drank tart cherry juice before long-distance running felt less pain afterward than those who did not. Scientists believe that the effect comes from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries. They help the muscle take less damage and minimize the pain during physical effort.
4. Help you sleep better
The hormone that regulates your sleep cycles is called melatonin. Well, cherries are rich in natural melatonin, which helps you sleep better. So grab a handful of cherries about an hour before you want to go to bed. The compounds in cherries will also relax your body and muscles from the stresses of the day and help your body regenerate.
5. Anti-inflammatory properties
Multiple studies showed that cherries have anti-inflammatory properties. One of them researched the effect eating cherries has on gout. The 600 people only had 10-12 cherries (or half a cup) a day and reported a 35 percent lower risk of a new gout attack. Those who ate three serving of cherries reported a 50 percent reduction in risk.
A smaller study that involved women with osteoarthritis drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks. They showed a reduction in markers of inflammation and also a 20 percent reduction in pain.